The Royal Family

When Lee Tabas went public with a letter questioning his brother Robert’s leadership of the family bank in Narberth, he pulled back the veil on a real-life soap opera: a storied, wealthy Main Line family torn asunder by greed, backstabbing and gossip; a colorful patriarch who pitted son against son; and a trail of scandal and lawsuits that has almost everyone not talking to someone else. Meet the Tabases

“My first reaction was, ‘No way, she would never do that in front of her kids,’” says a former employee, who says Susan is a fabulous mom who spent tons of time with her four children, driving them in her white Escalade to sports practices and activities. She also devoted herself fully to her son, Major Corl Tabas Tepper, who was battling cancer, and was with him for all of his treatments at CHOP. “There was a very sweet side to her.”

But like her father, Susan could be charming one minute, screaming the next. And like her father, she thrived on being in control. (She hung poster boards all over her kitchen instructing her staff, step by step, on how to do everything.) She flipped out if the “wrong” person answered the phone, or if a dog dish that needed to be hand-washed was accidentally placed in the dishwasher.

“Everyone stayed around because she compensated them so well,” says the former employee. “Where else were you going to make money like that?” Housekeepers could earn $100,000 a year. One nanny made $5,000 a week.

After the incident, Susan was sentenced to a year’s probation, plus anger management classes. Less than three months later, in May 2007, she allegedly attacked another nanny and the nanny’s nine-year-old daughter, and was arrested again. The family, especially Susan’s sisters, came to her side, though none of them could have been happy that the Tabas Family Saga, which had finally faded out of the press for the first time in decades, was now back in it.

Then Lee had to go and write his letter.

It was as if they couldn’t help it. As if they couldn’t exist without the battles. As if feuding itself was genetic and had to be inherited, along with the money. Maybe Tabases, by the very nature of being ­Tabases, have no choice but to confront. To fight. And sue.

IT WAS SUCH a cute story that no newspaper could resist it — a 10-year-old boy from Philadelphia who wrangled Donald Trump into booking an act at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City.

But Fitz Daniel Tabas Tepper wasn’t just any 10-year-old. He was the grandson of Daniel Tabas. And like all Tabas boys, he’d started working young — he was “the executive producer” of Fercos Brothers Untamed Illusions. Magic! Dancers! Tigers! Juggling! It helped, of course, that Fitz’s mom Susan, now divorced, was dating one of the Fercos brothers. And it also helped that in 2003, Fitz had the good fortune to hitch a ride with The Donald on Trump’s personal jet, where he first broached the subject of bringing the show to A.C.

Over the next few months, there were many meetings and calls between 10-year-old Fitz and 57-year-old Trump, ironing out the details. The Fercos Brothers opened at the Xanadu showroom in the fall of 2003. Mickey Rooney was in the audience.

Fitz was over-the-moon excited that he actually made it happen. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, though, considering his family, and what each generation inherits from the one before it. As Fitz said at the time, in an article that also went out over a PR newswire, “My grandfather, Daniel Tabas, always said to never quit if you really want something.”   

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  • stephanie

    Good dirt and reading!

  • Barton

    During my childhood, in the late 40's and early 50's, I lived a few doors from "Uncle Charles" and Aunt Harriet and their son, Andy, and I would occassionally visit at them at their home where we would pop popcorn. They are really nice people.

  • Anne

    Ok , every family has it’s dirt or secrets
    Just cause these are smart and part of the ” chosen people ” who have brains and business smarts and happen to have made successes of themselves all you other jealous creeps need to get a life and stop using this family and other Main Line families as scapegoats. Get a life and work hard like the Tabas’ did to build their empire instead of looking for juicy stories like insecure leeches . This is one dignified family . They are not selfish but selfless and it is time to thank them for all charitable work that has enhanced the quality of life of the Main Line , Philadelphia , Adath Israel ,and so on and so on
    instead of bashing them

  • Bob

    Certainly some take pleasure in sniping at the rich, and no doubt there is an element of antisemitism at work, too. But this story is factual. I worked for the Tabas family and was privy to much. To put it politely, Daniel Tabas was not a very nice man. Yes, he worked hard, but he was also cruel, greedy, and heartless, a caricature of the money-grubbing Jew, unlike the vast majority of our people. Yes, he gave millions to good causes, but not because he gave a damn about anyone other than himself and his direct descendants but rather to buy respectability. He was a bully who treated his managers badly. He lined his immediate family’s pockets by putting everyone on the payroll of businesses that they never stuck their noses into, while paying employees sub-standard wages. He made a lot of people’s lives miserable. Dignified? That’s laughable.
    The previous comment attempts to write off any criticism of Daniel Tabas as jealousy. I think not. The evidence is overwhelming. And I

  • Bob

    (It says 200 word max, why cut me off at 175? To continue . . .) The evidence is overwhelming. And I can’t think of anyone less deserving of jealousy than he; he may have had millions, but my impression of him was he was a very unhappy man.

  • Anne

    There are lots of disgruntled employees and the greatest TV episodes are based around so many of these stories . Since you are not coming forth to reveal your identity Mr Bob , I think you’re full of it . I happen to know alot of this history and my family performed acts of kindness with theirs. The women of this family are some of the kindest most giving people who do not demand publicity or even acknowlegment for their charity and help to others. If you are Jewish , Gd is watching and listening .

    some of us just actually get more pleasure from helping others which may be a foreign concept to you . Get a life and a job you can hold on to and leave the Tabas’ alone

  • Bob

    Funny, criticizing me then posting anonymous, whoever you are. I have no ax to grind and rarely criticize others. I stand by everything I wrote. I only post anonymous so as not to suffer possible retribution from a family that can be very mean. And while my comments are about people I knew and worked with, your comments about me are meaningless, you know nothing about me. If you did, you’d know my whole life is about kindness. I only spoke up against the Tabas’s (and not all of them, by the way) because I was witness to the pain they, particularly Daniel, caused. The article that we are commenting on- do you think the journalist has an ax to grind? No, he researched a story and told it how it was. And yes, I am a Jew. Not the hypocritical kind of Jew that you are either. G-d is watching and listening, indeed. What arrogance. Perhaps your defense of Daniel is because you are a megalomaniac like he was. But I can’t say, because I don’t know you. Only a real horse’s…

  • Bob

    continued . . .Only a real horse’s ass would write what you did about someone you know absolutely nothing about!!